Brittan Golden stood on the University of Phoenix Stadium turf about 30 minutes after practice Sunday, waiting to head to the locker room. He had just been able to spend a little time with his young daughter, and she didn’t want Daddy to go — so while his wife shepherded her up the stairs, Golden wanted to remain in view to make the departure easier.
It was a good day for Golden, a wide receiver. Not only did he get to see his family, but he was excellent in practice, making several impressive catches for an offense that seemed to win the day. It was a good showing — but ultimately, Golden knows that only means something for so long.
“I try not to think about it, because as fast as you have a good play the very next play could be just as bad,” Golden said. “Whatever you last did. This league is what have you done for me lately, so …”
Each of the last two seasons, Golden has started the season on the practice squad, only to be later elevated to the 53-man roster. With the top four receiving positions all but set with Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Michael Floyd and Jaron Brown, a fifth spot would seem to come down to Golden or fifth-round pick J.J. Nelson (it is possible, but unlikely, the Cards could keep six receivers.)
It would be difficult to let Golden go if his practices are like Sundays. But with the experience of a player cut multiple times (He’s also spent time with the Bears and Jaguars), the 27-year-old Golden wasn’t about to overvalue what he had done.
“I feel more confident in myself and I think the first couple camps, I came in a little skittish,” Golden said. “I don’t really know, maybe I’m not made for this. But going through it enough times, you have to forget about it and just play.”
Tags: Brittan Golden
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Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon hurt his hamstring during the first practice Saturday, but coach Bruce Arians doesn’t think it’s serious and even joked Sunday that Weatherspoon “just wants to be fresh for pads” when the Cards finally put them on Monday. Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Shaq Riddick — who missed all but one practice in OTAs and minicamp with a bad hamstring — re-aggravated that hamstring injury and is undergoing an MRI. Linebacker Daryl Sharpton has a “very minor” hip flexor.
Other lunchtime notes:
— The Cardinals are hoping to take tight end Jermaine Gresham off the PUP list soon, so he can start playing his way into football shape. Arians compared Gresham’s situation to the one John Abraham was in last training camp when he showed up after missing most of the offseason.
— Arians said rookie wide receiver J.J. Nelson (pictured below) had a good first day. “I think he caught the DBs’ attention,” Arians said. Nelson can be a return man, but there should be a difficult fight for a fifth receiver slot with Brittan Golden, among others, and the top four spots going to Fitz, Floyd and the two J. Browns.
— There wasn’t much said about Jonathan Cooper by Arians except that he’s doing really well. There’s a reason. “Don’t want to jinx him,” Arians said.
— If there are any questions about Andre Ellington’s use after his injury-riddled 2014, there shouldn’t be. “I still want Andre to have in the neighborhood of 20 touches a game,” Arians said.
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Not a lot of news yet from Bruce Arians at training camp, in part because the Cards still haven’t had a practice yet (and even when they do today, it’ll be without pads. No pads until Monday.) But here are some quick tidbits:
— Carson Palmer’s arm is stronger, as Michael Floyd noted, because he has recovered from his shoulder issues of a year ago and also went through a rigorous rehab process on it while he was rehabbing his bad knee. He doesn’t know if it is stronger than it ever was, but he said he has noticed an uptick in velocity from last season.
— Arians on discussing starters, especially in this era of sub-packages and evolving gameplans: “We have about 16 starters on offense, we have about 18 starters on defense depending on what package we play that week,” Arians said. “Don’t get caught up. We introduce more starters than most teams because you try not to hurt anybody’s feelings that way.”
— That said, Arians said the inside linebacker job next to Sean Weatherspoon is Kevin Minter’s to lose, at least in the base package. In other packages, Minter would come off the field, most of the time for a defensive back.
— Arians singled out undrafted rookie inside linebacker Gabe Martin as a player who he is intrigued by and will be watching closely.
— It’s rare for a team to have five quarterbacks in camp, Arians acknowledged. One of them could be the first to be cut off the roster if injuries force a move at say, wide receiver. It ups the pressure early in camp.
— On the heels of his “Camp Cupcake” comment, Arians noted that the daily work involves players going to meetings in the morning to go over that day’s plays, then the team has a morning walkthrough going through those plays, and then the team practice the same plays full speed in the afternoon.
“If you can’t get it by then you’re probably too dumb to play,” Arians deadpanned. “That’s the evaluation process.”
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Bruce Arians gave an update of rookie wide receiver Damond Powell, who has been put on the reserve-non-football injury list after being shot in the face a few days before training camp. Powell’s football future, Arians said, will “strictly be up to the doctors.”
“He’s lucky to be alive,” Arians said. “He’s got a shattered jaw, he’s got a neck brace on where the bullet went through his neck. When he’s cleared, then we could possibly talk about bringing him back off that injury list.”
Arians said he texted Powell right after the shooting occurred. General Manager Steve Keim and team president Michael Bidwill texted Powell’s mother, and head athletic trainer Tom Reed has been in contact with Powell and gave the team an update Friday.
Tags: Damond Powell
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One interesting thing that came out of the interview session today was from wide receiver Michael Floyd, who took part in Carson Palmer’s workouts in southern California in July. Floyd said he thinks Palmer’s arm “is a lot stronger.” That’s interesting. You’d think that would bode well for his reconstructed knee that Palmer is able to get the base and torque to throw the ball harder than before.
Palmer, who is scheduled to speak to the media tomorrow, is full-go for camp, coach Bruce Arians said. More importantly, Arians said Palmer’s workload in the preseason games isn’t expected to be much different than any other preseason — meaning there will be no limitations because of his knee. Of course, Palmer won’t play a ton of preseason snaps — Arians said he knows what Palmer can do in a game — but he would have had that attitude even if Palmer hadn’t gotten hurt.
Tags: Carson Palmer
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The Cards have replaced the released Alfonzo Dennard on the roster, signing cornerback Shaquille Richardson Friday. Richardson, who played at the University of Arizona, was a fifth-round pick by the Steelers last season. He was cut by the Steelers by the end of the preseason, spending time on Pittsburgh’s practice squad. He was briefly signed by the Chiefs earlier this offseason but was released in April.
Richardson is here with the team. Not sure yet if he will participate in the conditioning test later today.
Tags: Shaquille Richardson
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Yes, training camp starts today (hopefully you can check out our redesigned homepage and our training camp page.) But before we get off and running, how about a quick glance at the Cardinals’ opponents for the 2016 season — which, as you know, the league has determined 14 of the 16 regular-season games already.
— New Orleans Saints
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers
— New England Patriots
— New York Jets
— NFC East team that finishes in same divisional spot as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— St. Louis Rams (assuming the Rams are still in St. Louis)
— Carolina Panthers
— Atlanta Falcons
— Buffalo Bills
— Miami Dolphins
— NFC North team that finishes in same divisional spot as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— St. Louis Rams (even more important to see if Rams are still in St. Louis)
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Heading into camp, the Cardinals will ease Jermaine Gresham back into football. He’s coming off back surgery and hasn’t done anything football-related this summer, and so slow going makes sense. Gresham can come off the PUP list at any point, and like Tyrann Mathieu last year, I’d expect Gresham to be on the roster by early September. Hopefully, a return to the field will be even quicker for Troy Niklas, who ended up on the active non-football-injury list yesterday at the same time the Gresham news was announced. Niklas has a bad hamstring, I would assume hurt while working out in prep for camp.
But that’s two tight ends the Cardinals don’t have for the outset of training camp, and the one open roster spot the team currently has may end up being spent on another tight end just to keep the numbers up — depending on what the timetable might be for Niklas and/or Gresham. It’s another setback for Niklas too, who had his rookie season shredded with injuries — from a broken finger to a bad ankle that needed surgery.
Even without the latest hamstring issue, Niklas acknowledged his ankle isn’t quite 100 percent, noting that his doctor told him it’ll probably be into the season before he builds up all his strength and flexibility.
“I’m not going to make that an excuse,” Niklas said before his hamstring injury. “(The ankle) has healed to a point where I can do mostly everything I want to do.”
As it stands, the Cardinals still have five tight ends ready for camp’s first practice Saturday: Darren Fells, Ifeanyi Momah, Ted Bolser, Gerald Christian and Gannon Sinclair.
Tags: Darren Fells, Gannon Sinclair, Gerald Christian, Ifeanyi Momah, Jermaine Gresham, Ted Bolser, training camp, Troy Niklas
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Understandably, there has been a lot of coverage to one of the Cardinals’ new coaching interns and to the new Bidwill coaching fellow. But Jen Welter and Levon Kirkland aren’t the only new coaches the Cardinals will have in training camp and the preseason (OK, Kirkland is around for two years.) There are six others:
— Rashied Davis – WR/Strength & Conditioning. Davis is a former wide receiver with the Bears and Lions.
— Emile Michael Harry – WR. Harry played wide receiver for the Chiefs and Rams.
— Rod Hood – DBs/DL. If you are a Cardinals’ fan, you really already should know Hood (but if you don’t, I wrote about him this summer.)
— David Kelly – RB. Kelly has been a college coach at a handful of stops.
— Keith McKenzie – LB. Played linebacker and defensive end for the Packers, Browns, Bears and Bills.
— Willie Williams – DB/DL. Played cornerback for the Steelers and Seahawks.
Tags: coaching staff, David Kelly, Emile Harry, Jen Welter, Keith McKenzie, Levon Kirkland, Rashied Davis, Rod Hood, Willie Williams
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The news the Cardinals and Bruce Arians have added Jen Welter as a coaching intern for camp and the preseason has created, not surprisingly, major nationwide buzz. Hiring the first NFL coach tends to do that. Mostly the reaction has been positive. But Arians didn’t do it for the reaction.
Arians cares about the idea of opening a door or bringing down a barrier. He said as much. He did not have to do this, however. He noted back in March players would accept anyone who would be able to coach them to better play, including a woman. It got a reaction then, but that’s as far as it had to go. At the time, Arians didn’t have anyone in mind (although he was aware of the one-time work of Dot Murphy coaching receivers at Hinds Community College in Mississippi.) Even when he heard from Texas Revolution coach Devin Wyman suggesting Welter, Arians didn’t have to do anything, and again after he brought her in for a visit during an OTA.
But Arians believes both in the door-opening possibility for women and Welter as coach. He isn’t about to bring in a coach he doesn’t think can coach. What would be the point in that? Publicity? It’s not like Arians and the Cards don’t have plenty of that already. When Arians says his players are on board, I believe that too.
Arians made the point that there will be six other coaching interns. Welter isn’t the only one. She’ll work with the inside linebackers with her master’s in sports psychology and her 14 years of professional football playing experience. Whatever it ends up meaning beyond that will be a bonus for Arians and the Cardinals — even though it certainly will mean more.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Jen Welter, Kevin Minter
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